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Classense library, ex Monastry of Classe, in the centre of Ravenna.

Classense library, ex Monastry of Classe, in the centre of Ravenna. Hotels near the Classense library.

Photo: 1)facade of the Monastery of Classe, which is today the Classense library, via Baccarini,2)pink marble portal, 3)entrance cloister,4)upstair floor,5)backside Monastery,via Chartres, 6)inscription over the entrance,7)San Romualdo church


The Classense library that is based here derived its name from the vast architectural complex which was the monastery of Classe until the time of Napoleonic suppression in 1797.

In the nearby area of Classe, at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare, a Benedictine community was established in the X century which then became the monastic order of Camaldoli following the reform canons of Saint Romualdo, a Classense monk.

Following the damage suffered I the year 1512 as the result of the siege by French troops ( see- last battle -articles of Ravenna history), the Camaldoli order of Classe decided to move their residence to inside the town walls, maintaining the same name has was already the case with the Canonica di Porto.

The space for the new monastery was obtained by knocking down the old hospital of Santa Maria della Misericordia, that was donated to the monks in 1433 by the Da Polenta, in order for them to help the old and the sick.

The pink marble of the portal is incised with the year of its opening: 1523, together with a good luck message in Latin: "eternal glory to those who enter and act in a good manner".

The monastery continued to expand in time until it reached its current dimensions, having developed around three cloisters and the church of San Romualdo, by the architect Luca Danesi, which was consecrated in 1637 and which today acts as a shrine to the victims of war and imprisonment.

The monk’s days were taken up with prayer, work and studies, within an area that was delimited by the gardens and the cloister culminating in the wonderfully ornate refectory, concluded with the grand fresco of the Wedding of Cana, painted in 1580 by Luca Longhi of Ravenna.

The size and richness of the buildings reflect the economic power of the abbey, which was the most important in Italy of the Monastic order of Camaldoli. Its extensive landed estates extending over the Ravenna district, in Romagna and the Marche.

The monastery became the cultural heart of the city between the 17th and 18th centuries, and was the seat of the schools of theology, philosophy, physics and religious studies.

The mathematician of Cremona Guido Grandi (1671-1742) was a guest here, to whom Newton sent his manuscripts before publication.

The monastery was also a cenacle of literary academies and scholars that gathered in the rich monastic “library”, that received great impetus from Pietro Canneti.

He was a man of letters and philosopher, an important presence in Ravenna for over forty years and abbot from 1704 to 1714, Canneti made use of the economic wealth of the abbey to enlarge the library, in order to extend its horizons, with the purchase of texts of a variety of different subject matters.

Some important manuscripts still remain today (such as the code of Aristophane dated back to the XI century) and rare works that constitute the true price of the Classense library that are housed in the Baroque styled shelves of the luminous aula magna.

Prof. Gianni Morelli, Anna Missiroli

The pleasure of fine accommodation in the centre of Ravenna: we recommend the Fabbri hotels for a pleasant stay as follows:

The Centrale Byron Hotel, 3-star hotel in the centre of Ravenna, close to the main momuments;

The Bisanzio Hotel, 4-star hotel in the centre of Ravenna, close to the main momuments;

Once you have reached the hotel and parked your car, forget it and walk everywhere, because everything is within walking distance. 

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